Senate passes sweeping sanctions bill targeting Iran, Russia

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"I think this is harmful", Putin said, according to RIA.

The proposed legislation seeks to penalize Russian Federation for its interference in the 2016 USA presidential elections, involvement in Syria's civil war and annexation of the Crimea region in Ukraine. Moscow retaliated by banning imports of Western food, which also hit ordinary Russians by spurring inflation, and barred some individuals from entering Russia.

While they ultimately decided not to lift sanctions, the administration has expressed reservations about the new bill.

On Thursday, the Senate overwhelmingly backed a bill that would impose additional sanctions on Iran and Russian Federation.

On Iran, the bill directs the president to impose sanctions on any entity that knowingly contributes to Iran's ballistic missile program or other programs to develop vehicles to deliver weapons of mass destruction.

An amendment was added to the popular Iran sanctions bill to expand existing sanctions to Russia-citing its election meddling, its seizure of Crimea in 2014, and its support of separatists in eastern Ukraine. He said Tuesday the administration should be supportive of the measure. The legislation was worked out by Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) voting against it. Ben Cardin (D-MD).

"This bipartisan agreement to stiffen sanctions is a significant step forward", said Sen.

The bill, which also strengthens penalties against Iran, would put into law sanctions that had been imposed by former President Barack Obama and not allow Trump to ease or lift them without congressional review. He and members of his administration have dissembled about their contacts with Russian Federation during the campaign and dismissed the steadily expanding investigations into them. Special Counsel Robert Mueller is conducting a separate probe.

Assuming the bill makes it through the House with the Russian Federation sanctions intact, Trump will face a tough a choice: Sign the bill because it's tough on Iran or veto it because it's too tough on Russian Federation? In early January, before Trump was sworn in, a bipartisan group of senators introduced a bill created to go beyond the punishments already levied against Russian Federation by the Obama administration and to demonstrate to Trump that forcefully responding to Moscow's election interference wasn't a partisan issue.

"Democrats and Republicans are joining together to warn the president he can not lift sanctions without our approval", the NY senator said. Those penalties were on top of existing USA sanctions over Russia's actions in Ukraine, which have damaged Russia's economy but had only limited impact on Putin's behavior.

The provision also would require congressional review if the White House decides to relax, suspend or terminate sanctions already in place.

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